ASUS G73Jh: Today's Top Gaming Laptopby Jarred Walton on April 17, 2010 2:25 AM EST
ASUS has made it a goal to increase their retail presence in the mobile market, with an eye on becoming one of the top brand names. There's no doubt that Dell, HP, and Acer continue to sell more laptops overall (especially if we leave out the Eee PC netbooks), but walk into any Best Buy, Office Depot, etc. and you're likely to find quite a few ASUS laptops for sale. They have everything from entry-level netbooks and laptops through long battery life CULV designs and a bunch of midrange offerings. At the high-end, you'll probably have more luck finding ASUS laptops online, but the ASUS G73Jh definitely makes such a search worthwhile.
The G73Jh is of the "bigger is better" variety of gaming notebooks, but it's not quite up there with the giant 18.4" offerings. Instead, ASUS has dropped down to a slightly smaller 17.3" chassis, but they've still packed in a lot of compelling hardware. Do you want to play games? How about getting the fastest current mobile GPU, and unlike the latest NVIDIA mobile solutions you get DirectX 11 support! The Radeon Mobility HD 5870 is a potent little chip, and it matches up nicely with the 1080p display. Sure, it pales in comparison to the top desktop GPUs (it's really based off the 5770 "Juniper" core with 800 Stream Processors as opposed to the 1600 Stream Processor "Cypress" core), but short of multi-GPU solutions like SLI and CrossFire, you won't find a faster notebook graphics chip.
|ASUS G73Jh-A2 Specifications|
Intel Core i7-720QM
(4x1.60GHz, 45nm, 6MB L3, Turbo to 2.80GHz, 45W)
|Memory||4x2GB DDR3-1333 (Max 8GB)|
ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5
800 SPs, 700/1.0GHz Core/RAM clocks (4GHz effective)
17.3" LED Glossy 16:9 1080p (1920x1080)
2x500GB 7200RPM HDD (non-RAID)
(Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500420AS)
|Optical Drive||8x DVDR SuperMulti (HL-DT-ST GT30N)|
Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8131)
802.11n WiFI (Atheros AR9285) Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Broadcom BT-270)
EAX Enhanced HD 4.0 Audio (2.1 speakers + subwoofer)
Microphone and headphone jacks
Capable of 5.1 digital output (HDMI)
|Battery||8-Cell, 14.6V, 5.2Ah, 75Wh|
|Front Side||Power/Battery/HDD/WiFi indicator lights|
2 x USB 2.0
Optical Drive (DVDRW)
Memory Card Reader
2x USB 2.0
AC Power Connection
2 x Exhaust vent
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|Dimensions||16.54" x 12.20" x 0.74-2.24" (WxDxH)|
|Weight||8.47 lbs (with 8-cell battery)|
Gaming (Laser) Mouse
102-Key keyboard with 10-key
Flash reader (SD, MMC, MS-Duo, Smart Media, xD)
2-year limited global warranty
1-year accidental damage and battery warranty
$1505 Online (Note: 9-10 day special order)
$1548 Alternative (In and out of stock everywhere)
Matched up with the GPU are a supporting cast of components that are powerful in their own right. For the CPU, the G73Jh-A2 that we received for review includes a quad-core i7-720QM (1.6GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.8GHz). The notebook uses an HM55 chipset, so support for i3 and i5 processors is also available and we expect to see other SKUs down the road. Thanks to Turbo Boost, the only dual-core CPUs that should clearly offer better single-threaded performance are the i5-540M and i7-620M, but for multi-threaded loads even the "low-end" 720QM bests all of the dual-core options. Besides 1TB (2x500GB) of storage and the other typical accessories, ASUS also stuffs a full 8GB of DDR3 memory into the G73Jh. It's interesting to note that they do this via four SO-DIMM slots, so potentially you could put 4x4GB in the system but ASUS officially lists only 8GB support.
The only serious omission (for some) is a Blu-ray drive; other models are likely to include such a drive, but costs are going to go up. If you want Blu-ray support, you might find it easier to just add your own for ~$140. For those that want it, eSATA, ExpressCard, and FireWire support are also missing, and unlike the N61Jv there's no USB3 port either. Digital content purveyors will be disappointed but if you're just after a mobile gaming solution the missing items aren't likely to matter.
When you add everything together, the G73Jh—particularly the A2 version that includes a nice mouse and backpack—is an excellent value, provided of course that you're interested in a gaming laptop. This thing is a beast to lug around, and it won't fit in my standard 17" laptop bag, so you'll want the ASUS backpack if possible. Availability is perhaps the only sore spot, with stock disappearing rapidly at most of the online vendors we've monitored. As such, a few sites are bumping up the price… and still selling out. (Newegg, we're looking at you and your $1750 A2 model.) The MSRP for this particular configuration is supposed to be $1600, and if you shop around you can probably find it at that price or slightly less, but as with any popular model you may need to work a bit to find one.
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ATC9001 - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - linkOne thing I'd like to point out Jarred is that you didn't mention the G73's lack of hardware RAID support. This was actually the deal breaker for me. If a laptop is going to offer dual HDD's and is 17", it really needs to offer RAID. I was about to go with the W870CU, when I figured I could get a more portable (use on the couch) W860CU with nearly the same specs and price. Overall though it's a great laptop, but I think it needs to be dinged and noted that theres no RAID.
I ended up building my own Clevo based W860CU...with the differences being 15.4", 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and i7 620m for the same price the reviewed model....now granted I do have to put it together, and if a reseller were to build it they'd charge ~1700-1800 or so.
coolsam2 - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - linkI would agree with you - but then I believe a better setup is SSD + Spindle HD.. You will beat the performance of the SSD, but won't need to worry about the data loss as in the case of RAID0.. The 750 2.5" HD is already out, right?
coolsam2 - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - link*I mean the SSD would beat the performance of the RAID.. I need to sleep!
therealnickdanger - Sunday, April 18, 2010 - link... Unless you RAID two SSDs... :)
dvsman - Monday, April 19, 2010 - linkI had my 2 Samsung 256gb SSDs in RAID 0 in my Gateway FX P6831 and it was definitely fast BUT the problem I've come to discover is that RAID setups do not support TRIM / Garbage Collection whereas Win 7 will support these functions individually right out of the box. If you know anything about SSDs then you know TRIM / GC is essential.
I've since split the pair to a SSD boot + conventional HD storage setup in my 2 laptops that support 2 drives (the gateway above and my newish Asus G51J). Plus it makes cloning (for restore or backup) alot easier. Try cloning a raid setup off of a laptop, its a A>B>C then C>A kinda thing that wastes your whole day!
chrnochime - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - linkI would think there's a fairly low number of people who would be using this laptop as gaming PC replacement AND do work on it at the same time(I doubt the games need RAID do they?). Those really dedicated to having their work safe with RAID would get a separate PC to deal with that just solely for work (if they don't have one put aside already), so you're probably amongst the very small minority who are bemoaning the lack of RAID here.
Jeff7181 - Monday, April 19, 2010 - linkRAID will not make your work safe. If you're worried about your work being safe you should be doing regular backups, not relying on RAID 1 as data is written in real time to both drives. RAID 1 only helps protect against data loss due to hardware failure. As I said, if you're that concerned about the integrity if your data, you better have a backup and then you may as well just put the drives in RAID 0 and get the performance increase.
arkcom - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - linkRaid was the deal breaker, yet you didn't even use it in your build?
coolsam2 - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - linkJust sold my Asus G51vx-a1 and might jump into this.. I hated the 'hotness' of the G51 with all the undervolting etc. etc. it was still very hot.. i'm pleased to read this runs a lot cooler (could have used some direct numbers or charts though).. might just get rid of my desktop with a 4870x2.
Anyways I do have one recommendation and a very fair one - Can we get comparisons @ 1920*1200? Many of us are going to replace our desktops with this which doesn't necessarily mean replace the nice LCDs we all have. I would have this laptop (if I owned one) hooked up to the 24" LCD and run games at 1920*1200. It's sad that they won't do 1200p on laptops and 1080p is becoming more of the standard. I've a Dell Studio 1537 with a 1920*1200 CCFL and still I decided to get rid of the G51 and keep my Dell - for some people screen estate is just that important..
except for the missing data on temps (or did I miss it) excellent article.
ATC9001 - Saturday, April 17, 2010 - linkIt's hard to do a fair comparison since mobile CPU's often difficult or the reviews are done with CPU's faster than the mobile counterpart (which is to be expected). But here's a review comparing the desktop 5770 (basically 5870m) and your desktop 4870X2...your X2 is obviously faster...
Putting an SSD is smart I agree, but for me as a gamer, I want RAID'd SSD's! I can Tony Trim the drives when I want as well, and I think very soon if not already Intel may have a solution for TRIM'd arrays.
This is still a great laptop, but that I'm a RAID junky.